Archive for March 5, 2009

Tensions Riding High on El-Farabi

Last night I was swapping teacher stories with some friends of mine, it was like “can you top this one?”  The husband is teaching business management courses at a Kazakh, supposedly “international” university where there are only two foreign faculty, everyone else speaks Russian.  His classroom anecdotes and scenarios make where I teach seem like a dream.  

My friend HAS to maintain his sense of humor because of what he witnesses at his university on a daily basis while comparing it to his London university where he just recently received his Ph.D. in political science.  The following story was without a doubt the funniest, though it shows that tensions are riding high besides at our university where cutbacks and slashing of programs are supposed to be happening in an effort to salvage money from somewhere besides milking it from the students’ tuition.


My friend has to ride the bus every morning, early in the morning to get to his university which is off El-Farabi Avenue.  He teaches two different courses back to back to 15 students, they are third year students.  Four hours of their sitting and his lecturing is already a recipe for disaster for students and teacher alike.  Anyway, last Wednesday morning he got on the bus as usual and the bus was packed with its regular, weary customers.  All of a sudden in the early morning 7:00 a.m. traffic they are in a race with another bus loaded with passengers down El-Farabi (the beltway to the south of downtown proper of Almaty).  When the one bus pulled over to the busstop to pick up new passengers, the second bus parked in front of it so as to block its forward movement.  The driver got out and started duking it out with the other bus driver.


By this time you have two busloads of wide awake people as witnesses to the drivers punching each other out in the early pre-dawn hour.  The bus conductors from each bus were egging the drivers on. The fighting continued with people wondering if they were going to get to their jobs on time.  Somehow whatever problem needed resolving with this display of violence (who needs tv when you can get it live?!) the drivers got back to their duties. My friend said that he got to his busstop 15 minutes earlier than usual. All passengers were “shattered” but thankfully still alive even with this slight altercation between drivers.  My friend doesn’t know much Russian but he could tell that the other passengers who got off the bus were telling those waiting to NOT get on the next bus because of what had just happened.  Tensions were riding high on the road along El-Farabi last week.  Angst is everywhere since the decline of the tenge a month ago which is sure to drop again in the next month or so.


More funny and not so funny stories in tomorrow’s blog.

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